Last week this reporter had a unique chance to turn back to clock so to speak and sit in on a high school class at Napanee District Secondary School.
Though NDSS is not this scribe’s alma mater, the memories of being in high school flooded back while walking the hall en route to class. Observing the actual students in the halls and inside the class, it was interesting to note though some things are very different from this writer’s time as a student, others remain the same. Perhaps the biggest difference is gone are the days of passing notes to the person in front of you, now it’s a much more efficient text message-and the recipient need not even be in the same class.
All of which is a side track from the main purpose of the visit, which was to observe Local Government Week in action as Greater Napanee mayor Terry Richardson appeared before Brian Heaton’s Grade 10 Civics class to talk local politics. He was joined by deputy mayor Brian Calver and Limestone District School Board trustee Tiffany Lloyd.
It was interesting to hear the issues that matter the most to teens, right from the source. None of the students in the room could legally vote, so in a sense they have little say in how the town is run. Students can raise their issues and hope council will do the right thing, even if it’s not likely to score them many votes come election time. Some of the topics discussed during their visit to class were very valid concerns, such as the rising cost of transportation, the future of an aquatics centre in the community and the impact the Gibbard District will have on the town.
Even if they can’t vote, that doesn’t mean youth are not an integral part of the community, both now and in the future. The decisions made today could have major impact on their lives down the road-they may end up being the ones who foot the long-term bill for any major projects that get the green light during this term of council.
A big kudos goes out to the mayor and deputy mayor, as well as the local trustee, for taking time out of their day to chat with students. Perhaps their visit might just get teens thinking about a career in municipal politics-a young, fresh voice is always welcome if nothing else other than to provide a new perspective. Even if it didn’t inspire the next future mayor of Napanee, it at least provided some insight as to how local politics work. It’s a level of politics than can often get overlooked or brushed aside, but the fact is municipal council plays a huge role in its constituent’s lives. When it comes to matters that impact the town, they’re the ones that are most likely to do something about it, not Toronto or Ottawa. Offering a bit of insight for teens could help to de-mystify the political process and perhaps encourage them to get involved, even if its as simple as just casting a ballot once they turn 18.